Be sure to read my intro post and Part 1 before reading this.
Today, I will continue a list of tips to survive homeschooling with preschoolers in the house. Please remember, I'm not an expert, nor do I "have it all together." These are just some of my thoughts, ideas, and goals shared for your encouragement.
4. End before they do
By this, I mean, end the activity at hand before it ends in boredom, fighting, etc. This is hard to do when things are going well, but, so necessary! When I wrap up our school hour for the day with CJ’s lesson, and AJ is playing contentedly upstairs during his “alone time,” it is tempting to get some work done while he is occupied. However, I found I must cut their time slots for various things like “alone play” and “reading chair” time to make them feel like it is a privilege.
5. Be flexible
I clearly remember walking into my Education 101 class at Harrisburg Area Community college in my freshman year of college and hearing my professor (a wise, retired principal) saying, “If you aren’t flexible, then just walk out the door now. Don’t enter the teaching profession.” He was right, of course, and his wisdom applies to homeschool too. Days (especially days with preschoolers) aren’t going to go as I plan. And I like plans. My tendency when things don’t go as planned is to get frustrated. This, in turn, teaches my children to get frustrated when things do go as they planned while playing with their siblings or friends. Humbling, but true. This flexibility thing is an area where I’m trying to grow. I have no advice to offer, just encouragement to roll with the punches and respond calmly to your preschoolers.
6. Have a special “reading corner”
Above is our reading corner – a special chair brought home from Brazil by Daddy on a trip to visit relatives.
Make up your own reading corner, but keep it special only to be used during school. It doesn’t have to be anything much – a simple blanket, pillows, and/or stuffed animals will do. As for the books, I found that corralling all the public library books in a crate is necessary to avoid all-out-all-over-the-house searches for library books. So, I simply keep the library crate near the chair. This keeps the books fresh, new and exciting for “reading chair” time.
7. Get them to help with chores
This one is hard, really hard with preschoolers, but it seems to me that God has planted in young children’s hearts a desire to help. That desire seems to fade over time, and I’m not sure why, but, fellow moms of preschoolers, let’s capitalize on that willing spirit! The reason I find this so difficult is that is easier and faster to just do the chores myself. (And, in the case of egg collecting, often more profitable if I do it myself!) However, the reason I included it as a tip for homeschooling with preschoolers, is that this is a busy season of life, and I need help. It may require some more work now, but it will be huge dividends as your children grow older. I feel as though I’m already reaping those benefits with my five year old who can fold nearly any piece of laundry and do some of the vacuuming.
I’m going to give you a brief snapshot of how we do chores around here. Let me say, this is a work in progress. I would love to hear from you readers how you handle chore time.
We do the tried-and-true chore chart. We have collective family chores and individual chores.
Our family chores are a cleaning task assigned to each day. For example, Wednesday is “clean the bathroom” day. We all tackle the job together – basically they all grab a rag and scrub away. I have found that anything involving spray bottles usually excites young boys. (That goes for machines as well, such a vacuum cleaners.) Every day has its own cleaning chore that we do together, and they are the same every week. I strive to keep this an upbeat time. If I’m dreading “chore time,” as we call it, then they will to. At ages 5, 4, and 2, my boys enjoy “chore time,” except “basement cleaning day.”
Then they have individual chores. Each boy has a daily chore and helper task for the whole week. For example, AJ’s daily chore could be feeding the chickens and his helper task could be helping with the laundry. So, for the whole week, he feeds the chickens and helps with laundry whenever I request his help. Other helper tasks I do are a “dish helper” (unload dishwasher, set table, anything with dishes) and “anytime helper” (take table scraps to chickens, get items for me, etc.)
Even as I type this, I’m thinking about how easy it still is just to do the jobs myself. And, I confess, there are some weeks where I don’t call on my laundry helper at all. But it is the goal, and I will keep working on it.
8. Savor, savor, savor!
What young mom hasn’t heard the words, “Enjoy them while they’re little, they grow up so fast!” Usually I smile, and think, “You’ve just forgotten what this stage is like and how much WORK it is!” But then, upon reflection, I know they are right. This is a stage, one that many moms refer to as their best stage in life. Savor the unabashed hugs and kisses. Savor the sticky hands after pancakes for breakfast. Savor the words, “Mom, come look what I did!” Savor the newborn snuggled up to you at peace with world because she has all she needs. Savor the joy that young children have for life. Savor being able to get your kids excited about whatever you are excited about. Savor, savor, savor! And take pictures.
9. If all else fails, feed the baby while you teach phonics
Yes, if need be, do what has to be done in the moment, and try to be joyful about it. I have found myself feeding my baby while teaching a school lesson. That’s okay. When I think back to my days as a teacher, those students have a lot of distractions in a classroom of 20 or more kids. Having your mom feed the baby (or whatever other task a preschooler may need) while teaching is a minimal distraction. Not convenient for you, but as I read in Loving the Little Years, remember that whatever you are dealing with at the moment will probably be past in 20 minutes.
In conclusion, view your preschoolers as an asset to your homeschooling environment. Embrace them and their exuberance. Yes, it is not always easy, but God is faithful.
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Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
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